I would like to introduce you to an amulet from Sukothai province, known as Phra Kru, Wat Tap Peung. These pims were not discovered until recently when excavation work at the temple caused damage to a chedi in the monastry compound revealing a secret Kru containing these amulets made up of three different styles of pim. However it would appear according to local accounts that this was not the first time that a temple chedi had been opened to reveal these amulets.

Although the exact history behind these amulets is not known for certain there is good evidence to suggest they were blessed by Ajahn On, a previous Abbot, in BE 2473.  Locals tell a story about the temple that has been passed down through the generations.

A local villager named Nai Dao Fak Feuang  was out in the fields trapping wild animals when he spotted a rabbit in proximity to the temple. He fired at the animal but his gun failed to discharge any ammunition. This account quickly circulated the village after it was suggested that there were possibly ancient amulets or other religous artifacts buried within the vicinity, powerful enough it seems to have prevented the animal being shot.

Although this was widely believed no attempt was made to discover the possible whereabouts of the relics, that is until  another similar event occurred shortly afterwards. A cattle thief  on the run from a posse of locals hid himself in a spot very close to the location that the rabbit had a lucky escape previously, and again firearms malfunctioned.

The evidence was now overwhelming and it was generally asumed that the cause was indeed religous objects and probably contained within the temple Chedi close by. The temptations were now sufficient enough to encourage opportunist thieves to break into the chedi looking for treasure. Fortunately this break in was discovered early enough to prevent any major loss.

The Kru was opened officially and the amulets recovered and given the name Phra Kru Wat Tap Peung. The three type of pims discovered were.

1.  Pra Neua Din Pow See Mor Mai.
2.  Pra Neua Dam Pong Bailan
3.  Pra Neua Samri

These antique pims from Sukothai province are considered to be a provincial treasure because of the beautiful art exhibiting strong clarity and depth. The majority of the pims, of which few are in circulation, were made from Neua Din Pow such as the illustration above. A much lesser quantity were made from Neua Samrit, a bronze amalgam.

As mentioned previously it is believed that these amulets were blessed by a former abbot of the temple as a few had been engraved with a name and date, Ajahn On, BE 2473, making these amulets about 85 years old, consistant with the style and composition.

The former chedi was repaired by the temple committee and a significant number of amulets were returned to their original home.

This particular amulet featured above is called Pim Sum Chinraat and features the Buddha in meditation under a sacred arch. It is further identified as Pim Chanok because it swells up from the base. Similar pims with a yant to the reverse are known as Pim Kanaen.  


Pra Kru Bang Yee Hon, Ampur Bang Bpla Ma, Suphanburi province, is a sacred amulet recovered from a damaged temple pagoda and  believed to be about 100 years old, originally blessed around the year BE 2447.

Today these are highly popular pims as they are thought to provide the worshipper with ”Kong Krapan” or invulnerability. Despite their rarity they are still relatively inexpensive

This region of Thailand was originally called Pradu Nam Bang Yee Hon due to the location of a flood gate operated by the Department of Irrigation. In older times sea traders still used these waterways to access communities by boat and would moor very close to the temple. It is thought that the boats offered cover to thieves who were able to access the temple under cover of dark. The Abbot at that time, Ajahn Puang Suwananoh, indeed reported hearing a loud noise and barking dogs during the early hours, and whilst investigating the cause he discovered the damaged pagoda.

At day break he surveyed the damage and rather risk further theft and possible collapse of the pagoda decided to empty the contents and recovered all the amulets. In the year BE 2504 many of the amulets were sold to local villagers to raise funds with which to repair the pagoda.

Two different amulet styles were discovered, namely; Pim Chinrat and Pim Chiangsean. both being made from “Neua Din Pao”” or burnt clay.

This find and subsequent research revealed that these amulets were originally blessed by Luang Phor Yat, a former abbot, before being passed to Luang Phor Gaew, Wat Suan Hong, to be blessed again. He was a very  famous and highly respected monk of the province, being skilled in higher level meditation It is known that Luang Phor Yat was a disciple of Luang Phor Niam, Wat Noi, an adept of  ”Wicha Akom” or magic. Luang Phor Yat himself also was known for being highly skilled in the art of Wittayakom. Luang Phor Gaew and Luang Phor Niam were close friends.

At the time these amulets caused a local sensation as many people wanted to test the efficacy of the pims against various  types of weapon including guns. It was reported that guns became completely inoperative when fired. This story was later to be reported nationwide.

The pims are remarkably detailed with strong impressions. They are very attractive amulets and in particular the double sided pim. A number of different coloured variants were found including black, grey, white, yellow and red.  Many of the amulets show dark staining due to passage of time within the kru.

Highly recommended.


Bang Krathing and Its Historical Significance

Wat Bang Krathing is an ancient temple dating back to the Ayutthaya period, specifically during the reign of King Narai the Great. It was originally constructed under the leadership of Phraya Si Ratcha Decho Chai (Thip), a notable nobleman who, according to legend, escaped capture by the Burmese using mystical powers. However, the temple’s completion was left unfinished until it was further developed and completed during the reign of King Theppharacha by the Phlu Luang royal family, who named it Wat Mai Bang Krathing.

The original location of the temple was about 40 meters north of its current site, on land adjacent to Phraya Si Ratcha Decho Chai’s residence. Notably, two ancient Sterculia trees still stand on the grounds today.

The Sacred “Phra Luang Pho To” Amulet

The “Phra Luang Pho To” amulet from Wat Bang Krathing is a highly revered object, particularly among ancient warriors who believed in its protective powers. This amulet, made from Ayutthaya clay, is known for its distinctive characteristics and age, over 400 years old, reflecting the artistry of Ayutthaya craftsmen.

The discovery of the “Phra Luang Pho To” amulets is not thoroughly documented, but a significant excavation occurred in BE 2481 during the renovation of the old temple hall. Workers found these amulets beneath the principal Buddha statue. Some were distributed to the local community as a token of appreciation for their contributions to building the new hall, while the rest were reinterred beneath the new statue.

The Rediscovery and Preservation of the Amulets

During the excavation, original molds of the “Phra Luang Pho To” amulets were also found. Unfortunately, some amulets and molds were later stolen. To prevent further thefts, the temple conducted another official excavation, uncovering additional amulets. However, these were later determined by the Fine Arts Department to be of a later period, from the Rattanakosin era, due to differences in materials and age compared to the earlier finds.

Characteristics of “Phra Luang Pho To Amulets

These amulets typically feature a triangular shape with the Buddha seated in meditation (Samadhi) or in the victory over Mara (Maravijaya) posture on a lotus base. The detailed craftsmanship includes prominent facial features and clearly defined robes, with the back often showing distinctive marks known as “betel nut sheath marks.”

“Phra Luang Pho To” amulets are historically significant and highly regarded for their reputed invincibility and protection, believed to render the wearer immune to weapons. Modern collectors also affirm the amulets’ efficacy in attracting favor and goodwill.

The “Phra Luang Pho To” amulet from Wat Bang Krathing remains a treasured piece of Ayutthaya heritage, cherished for its spiritual potency and historical value. Both ancient warriors and contemporary enthusiasts continue to seek these amulets for their renowned protective and benevolent properties.


Pra Kru Chanasongkram
Tiger General – Right Hand Man to Two Kings – Chaophraya Surasse / Maha Sura Singhanat
พระกรุวัดชนะสงคราม

History has sometimes overlooked Chaophraya Surasee’s contribution to the building of the New Siam perhaps because he was devoted to his older brother, Rama I, and the collective ideals of creating a new order in Siam.

From 1767-1782 during the Kingdom of Thonburi, Boonma fought along and served King Taaksin in at least 13 battles against internal competitors and external enemies.

After the death of King Taaksin in 1782 and the enthronement of General (Chaophraya) Chakri as King Rama I, General Surasee was honored and elevated by his brother, the new king. He was appointed Uparaja or Second King (in modern terminology this would be Deputy King or Crown Prince) and continued to serve as an able and imaginative Supreme Commander. An aggressive leadership style, where Forward was his most common command, earning him the nickname Phraya Seua or The Tiger General from soldiers in the field.

chaophraya surasi

Perhaps the Tiger Generals most illustrious battle was in 1785, at Laadya, Kanchanaburi, three years after King Bodawpaya of Burma took over the throne when he led 30,000 Siamese troops against a formidable Burmese force of 90,000. Strategy, again, by moving swiftly, and with surprise, Uparaja Chaophraya Surasee prevented the Burmese settling in and picking their own battle position. A lack of iron cannon balls didn’t deter the Tiger General who quickly ordered balls of hardwood to be fired causing much havoc as they rained down on Burmese foot-soldiers and cavalry.

This was the first war between Burmese and Siam during the reign of King Rama I and known as The War of Nine Armies

Uparaja Chaophraya Surasee, as Deputy King and Supreme Commander, died in 1803 aged 60 years. It is fitting to recall that his last battle, at the age of 59, was ousting the Burmese from the northern city of Chiangmai.A statue of the Tiger General, who gave loyal service to two great Siamese kings, was unveiled by His Majesty King Bhumibol in 1979. It is situated at Wat Mahathat (Bangkok) and depicts a soldier, standing tall, with a sword in each hand. This is The Tiger General!

Wat Chanasongkram – Sacred Kru

The Kru (cell of sacred amulets) discovered at Wat Chanasongkram was originally created by HRH Prince Maha Surasee, (The Tiger General), royal brother of King Rama I the Great during the first period of the Chakri dynasty.

These amulets were created around 200 years ago and retained in a Kru located inside a chedi. They were re-discovered in B.E.2495, when the Abbot, Jaokun Pradharmpitok relocated the chedi to make room for a new school. The Abbot decided to give these amulets away to all the donors who had supported the construction of the new school and other renovation projects within the temple.Originally these amulets were quite fragile and were easily broken, as they were made from unbaked soil and Bailarn leaves. Jaokun Pradharmpitok decided to preserve the amulets by baking them.

Pims

There were many different Pims (styles) found in the Kru including Pim Prokbhoti, Pim Soomtaowanlui, Pim Kang Yun, Pim Pidta, etc. It was said that a policeman who was shot was wearing one of these amulets miraculously escaped un-injured. As a result, the fame of these amulets increased substantially


Phra Pang Perd Lok is a style (Pim or Pang Leela) of Buddha Image, representing his descent from the Tavatimsha Heaven, to which he had risen in order to preach to his mother.

A figure that seems to have come to a momentary pause mid-stride, one heel raised while the other foot is firmly planted on the ground, one hand lifted in a gesture of giving instruction or dispelling fear, while the other arm is naturally at its side.This iconography is most closely associated with amulets from the Sukhothai era and are considered by many collectors to be some of the most beautiful pims ever created.

The Buddha is always represented with certain physical attributes, and in specified dress and specified poses. (Pang) Each pose, and particularly the position and gestures of the Buddha’s hands, has a defined meaning.

The most important aspect of the iconography of the Buddha is gestures made with the hands, known as  mudrā, a symbolic or ritual gesture.

The Abhaya mudrā (“mudrā of no-fear”) represents protection, peace, benevolence, and dispelling of fear. In the Thervada it is usually made with the right hand raised to shoulder height, the arm bent and the palm facing outward with the fingers upright and joined and the left hand hanging down while standing. This mudrā is associated with the walking Buddha.

The gesture was used by the Buddha when attacked by an elephant, subduing it as shown in several frescoes and scripts.The dress of the Buddha is the monastic robe, draped over both shoulders, or with the right shoulder bare.

It was at Sukhothai that the most beautiful and characteristic Thai art developed including the Walking Buddha, the highpoint not only of Sukhothai art, but indeed of Siamese art as a whole.

The Thai adopted Theravada Buddhism from the Mons, and also incorporated their basic conception of image making; the art of Sukhothai is therefore closely linked to the art of Gupta, India. From the Khmer, the Thai retained a deep affection for the great Indian epics, especially the Ramayana.

Although the artists of the Sukhothai period are often credited with ‘inventing’ the walking Buddha, it actually appeared in Indian sculpture (only in relief) much earlier and in particular the Jain sect, an old religion dated around 6 BC.

Walking Buddhas display the gesture of dispelling fear (Abhaya Mudra), or giving instruction (Vitarka Mudra).

The original Pra Pang Perd Lok amulets were heavily influenced by the iconography of the Khmer Kingdom, evidenced by the similarity of the face to various Hindu gods.The Thais re-designed the style and nowadays is called Phra Leela and although essentially the same amulet tends to appear be somewhat more delicate and lively.

Today Phra Leela is respected as one of the most beautiful images of Buddha in the world.

Pra Pang Perd Lok amulets can be classified according to several different style of pim. Although somewhat technical and used only by professionals, I list it here for your reference.

1.Pim Ting Ding (Toes of the Buddha image are close to one another)

2.Pim Teen Tang (Toes of the Buddha image are further apart )

3.Pim Yerntor (Buddha Image standing on a base)

4.Pim Met Tonglarng (Similar in shape to the seed of Tonglarng, a species of Thai plant)

5.Pim Kleep Jumpa (shape of amulets similar to Jumpa, a species of Thai flower)

6.Pim Kleep Bua (Similar in shape to the lotus)

7.Pim Kempetch (Similar in shape to Kempetch, a variety of Thai flower)

8.Pim Bai Kem (shape of amulet similar to the leaf of the Kem flower.

9. Pim Khanun

The smallest Pra Pang Perd Lok amulets are approximately two-centimeter high and the tallest are about eight-centimeter high.

Today the most sought after Leela amulets originate from Kamphaengphet province, often achieving very high prices. Probably the most affordable Sukhothai pims are those from Kru Larn Dokmai.